Ancient site saved from works

Residents of the neighborhood of Akadimia Platonos, the site of Plato’s Academy in Kolonos, western Athens, yesterday welcomed a decision to block the planned construction of a multistory building next to the ancient site. Meanwhile Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros revealed that red tape could stand in the way of a plan to revamp the run-down area as well as another downgraded part of the city center. Responding to a question tabled in Parliament yesterday, Deputy Environment and Public Works Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis said that «town-planning authorities had suspended construction activities as… permission had been granted without an approved environmental study and with incoherences and omissions.» Originally the Athens prefecture had planned to build a large structure, with five floors above and three below ground, to accommodate its administrative offices. Residents had expressed fears that the building would be turned into a car park. When the School Building Organization (OSK) stepped in and offered to buy the site to create a kindergarten, prefectural authorities agreed to accept compensation for the site and to set up their administrative offices in an old building near the run-down Theatrou Square. The problem now is that a legal loophole is preventing the prefecture from renting the property at Theatrou Square. Sgouros told Kathimerini that he wrote to the Interior Ministry last December, appealing for a legislative amendment that would allow the prefecture to rent the property but has heard nothing yet. «There is no political understanding of the importance of intervention to tackle acute problems in our city,» Sgouros said. «The renovation and operation of the Theatrou building would be a step toward tackling the scourge of ghettos springing up in the city center.»

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